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Some plants and pollinators have unique relationships. Take the rush milkweed.

Most years our rush milkweed plants only produce one or two seed pods each.

This year, however, the plants are covered with seed pods.

Why?

To figure out, we need to go back a few weeks. At that time the plants were covered with flowers.

We also saw a lot of tarantula hawk wasps visiting the flowers.

Although they are clumsy giants, tarantula hawks are especially good at pollinating milkweeds.  Their long legs slide into the grooves in the flowers, where they collect the sticky sacs of pollen called pollinia (for more information, see BugGuide). When the wasps visit the next flower, the process is reversed, leaving the pollinia behind to pollinate the plant.

This year the tarantula hawk wasps were abundant and now the seed pods are, too, which hopefully means

soon we'll see more milkweed seeds,

which will glide away on their silky parachutes to make more rush milkweed plants, which are

good for the monarch caterpillars that eat them, and

which turn into monarch butterflies, important pollinators for many other wildflowers.

All thanks to tarantula hawks!

It's time to get ready for National Moth Week, which is coming up July 20-28, 2019.

Moths’ vital role as nature’s often unheralded nighttime pollinators will be spotlighted during the 8th Annual National Moth Week, July 20-28, 2019.

National Moth Week (NMW) invites moth enthusiasts – a.k.a. “moth-ers” – of all ages and abilities to participate in this worldwide citizen science project that literally shines a light on moths, their beauty, ecological diversity and critical role in the natural world.

Free online registration is open to individuals, groups, schools, parks, museums, nature centers and other organizations. Events are posted on the NMW events map. This year’s registration form enables events before and after NMW to be included.

Participants are invited to contribute their moth photos and observations to NMW partner websites, as well as the NMW Flickr group. This year, iNaturalist.org, a site for sharing observations and identifications in the natural world, will feature a page for NMW.

To learn more about National Moth Week, visit nationalmothweek.org, or write to info@nationalmothweek.org.

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My neighbor's cactus was covered with flowers this morning.

Getting a clean shot wasn't easy.

A carpenter bee kept photobombing.

 

But check out how cool it looks in flight.

Maybe it was the flowers who were photobombing?